Political Youth

It’s no secret that the youth of Amer­i­ca have embraced Oba­ma as their can­di­date, and I’m thrilled, but also a lit­tle sur­prised, that for the first time in my life, there is the dis­tinct prospect of the US Pres­i­dent actu­al­ly being younger than I am (although by less than a year — 10 months and 22 days, to be exact).  Barack Oba­ma is at this moment, fly­ing to see his ail­ing Grand­moth­er in Hawaii. Mine is long gone. His age is on my mind, because I can relate to him as a mem­ber of my age group, Gen­er­a­tion Jones.  Not a boomer, much as they would like to lump us in with them (and I always think of Clin­ton and yes, Dubya as quin­tes­sen­tial boomers, rep­re­sent­ing much that was both good and bad about that gen­er­a­tion), and not a Gen-Xer, Gen­er­a­tion Jones does­n’t get as much press, but it I’m begin­ning to pon­der what it will be like with one of us actu­al­ly in charge. To quote Wikipedi­a’s definition:

Gen­er­a­tion Jones is a term that describes peo­ple in cer­tain Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries born between the years 1954 and 1965. Amer­i­can social com­men­ta­tor Jonathan Pon­tell iden­ti­fied this gen­er­a­tion and coined the term to name it. Gen­er­a­tion Jones has been referred to as a hereto­fore lost gen­er­a­tion between the Baby boomers and Gen­er­a­tion X, since pri­or to the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of Pontell’s the­o­ry, its mem­bers were includ­ed with either the Boomers or Xers. The name con­notes a large, anony­mous gen­er­a­tion, and derives from the slang term “jonesing”, refer­ring to the unre­quit­ed crav­ings felt by this gen­er­a­tion of unful­filled expectations.

From Then to Now

Anoth­er age-relat­ed top­ic was on my mind: When I vol­un­teered to work on the Dean cam­paign in Mass­a­chu­setts, we used to have many peo­ple who were younger than us over to work on the Mass-for-Dean web site. Chris, Emi­ly and James’s lap­tops would be out at the kitchen table suck­ing down bits on the still fair­ly new wi fi net­work. We worked on the web site, on hand­outs, signs, coor­di­na­tion of resources and meet­ings, and a bunch of oth­er activities.  I still keep in touch with a few mem­bers of the group that Pam affec­tion­ate­ly referred to as ‘The kids’. So it’s with a lit­tle pride that I view the Dean ’50-state strat­e­gy’, the stun­ning­ly effec­tive use of the Inter­net as a fund-rais­ing tool, and the sign­ing up of all of those new vot­ers as per­haps hav­ing ‘fetal’ begin­nings in our town­house in Cam­bridge. Nev­er­the­less, I don’t think any of us had any idea of how sophis­ti­cat­ed the online com­po­nent of the cam­paign would become.

There is also so much vital­i­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty of those who are now involved in the Oba­ma cam­paign, which I can plain­ly see, even from a dis­tance. Even though I’m not a fan of the music, this online ‘grass-roots’ web ad struck me as so pol­ished, so ‘pro­fes­sion­al’, and so emo­tion­al­ly appeal­ing that I felt that I had to embed it here. Some of the newest gen­er­a­tion of vot­ers in the US (and who are, of course, even younger than the kids who crowd­ed around the kitchen table 22 Lilac Court) have made a very impres­sive get-out-the-youth-vote video:

4 Replies to “Political Youth”

  1. The “Gen­er­a­tion Jones” meme has been get­ting some real trac­tion of late. I must con­fess that it is new to me, but now that I am aware of it I am see­ing it everywhere.

    There was a post on Huff­in­g­ton Post today about it:

    [Huff­in­g­ton Post]

    Clarence Page of the Chica­go Tri­bune and MSNBC fame has been tout­ing it:

    [Clarence Page]

    Gen­er­a­tion Jones even has its own website!


  2. Thanks for the links, Adam! I had no idea this was ‘in the air’. 

    I take issue with Clarence Page’s asser­tion that Jones here comes from ‘Keep­ing up with the Jones’s’ (and hence, con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion) but rather that it real­ly is about ‘Jonesing’ for more mean­ing. Unlike the Boomers, we missed out on Wood­stock, the sum­mer of love and the ‘pos­i­tive’ parts of strik­ing out on our own. Instead, our for­ma­tive mem­o­ries are Water­gate, the Brady Bunch, the begin­ning of AIDS and big hair. Arguably, some pret­ty thin spir­i­tu­al gruel.

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